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About My Trip to the United Kingdom

My trip to London was a rollercoaster of unexpected delights and meticulously planned adventures. The journey started with a frustratingly long check-in line at Chicago O’Hare. However, fate intervened, and thanks to a seat swap, I found myself upgraded to Premium Economy on British Airways. The extra legroom and delicious Christmas turkey dinner made the long flight a breeze (well, almost – the wifi wasn’t great!).

Once in London, I hit the ground running with a self-guided walking tour. It was the perfect way to explore the city at my own pace, taking in iconic landmarks like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The scenic walk along the River Thames, with highlights like Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace, was a constant source of visual delight. To truly grasp the city’s sprawl, I ascended the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building. The breathtaking views from the observation deck were a must-do for any London visitor.

Delving deeper into history, I planned a visit to the colossal British Museum. With millions of artifacts, it could be overwhelming, so I prioritized must-sees like the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian Mummies. Going early in the day proved to be a wise decision, as I avoided the crowds and fully immersed myself in the museum’s wonders. 

Another historical highlight was witnessing the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The pageantry and tradition were captivating, and I even managed to capture some great photos despite the throngs of people. 

My trip culminated in a unique experience at Westminster Abbey. A “Song Service” filled the magnificent space with beautiful choral music instead of the usual sermon. While photography was forbidden, the experience of participating in such a historic tradition within the Abbey walls, including blessing the Royal Family, will forever be etched in my memory.

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I flew from Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow on British Airways in Premium Economy. The check-in process was a nightmare! There were no kiosks to check in at, and I waited in line for 90 minutes before finally getting to the front. But then came some good luck – I was upgraded to Premium Economy because a family needed my Economy seat!

My new seat was amazing – it was an aisle seat with tons more legroom and recline than my original seat. Security was a breeze since there was no TSA Pre-Check, and at the gate, I boarded in Group 3 thanks to my OneWorld Ruby status.

The Premium Economy cabin was a bit small, with only four rows of seats, which made me feel a little claustrophobic after a while. But the seat itself was really comfortable, although the tray table was built into the armrest, which was kind of annoying since I’m tall and it made it a bit awkward to use.

The flight attendants brought drinks around about 30 minutes after takeoff. I scored two small cans of Diet Coke, which hit the spot.

For dinner, they served a traditional Christmas turkey dinner with mashed sweet potatoes, salad, and even a pastry dessert! It was better than the usual airplane food. I decided to splurge on wifi access for the flight, but it was a total disappointment – it was slow and kept disconnecting. At least I was able to get a refund for it later.

They gave us a snack of a croissant with tomato and herb cream cheese before we landed. Overall, the flight was good, especially since I got the upgrade to Premium Economy. The food was great, but the wifi was a real bummer.

I spent a day exploring London on a fantastic self-guided walking tour! It was a great way to see all the major sights at my own pace. The tour started near Big Ben, the iconic clock tower that’s a symbol of London. From there, I walked along the River Thames, taking in the beautiful views.

One of the highlights of the tour was definitely Tower Bridge. I crossed the bridge, stopping to admire the amazing views of the city from above the River Thames. The tour also took me past the Houses of Parliament, where the British government makes laws. Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s residence, was another stop on the tour. It was pretty cool to see the palace up close!

The entire route followed the River Thames, so I had scenic views throughout the whole walk. It was a great way to get some exercise and fresh air while sightseeing. If you’re looking for a fun and active way to see London, I highly recommend doing a self-guided walking tour!

I visited the Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, for its amazing observation deck! The views were incredible, and I could see the whole city sprawled out below me.

Tickets were a bit pricey, especially since I bought them on the day of my visit, but it was definitely worth it. The observation deck has both indoor and outdoor viewing areas. The indoor deck was all fancy with champagne and classical music, but I much preferred the outdoor deck. Being outside allowed me to get a closer look at everything and take amazing pictures of the city.

If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend visiting the Shard for the breathtaking views!

The British Museum is massive, with over 8 million artifacts! It can be overwhelming to see it all, so I decided to plan my visit in advance.

First, I figured out which artifacts I absolutely wanted to see. The Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and the Egyptian Mummies were at the top of my list. The museum can get crowded, so I decided to go early in the day to avoid the lines.

I’m so glad I planned my visit ahead of time! The British Museum is an amazing place, and I was able to see all the highlights without feeling rushed.

I visited Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It was scheduled for 10:45 am, so I arrived at about 9:15 am. I found a spot near the entrance and waited for the ceremony to begin. The Old Guard was already stationed outside Buckingham Palace when I arrived. 

At 10:45 am, the New Guard arrived with the Queen’s Guard Military Band. The Changing of the Guard Ceremony lasted about 45 minutes. It was a crowded event, but I was able to get some great pictures. The Changing of the Guard is a free, public ceremony that takes place multiple times per week. You can easily get to Buckingham Palace via the London Tube.

While visiting my cousin in London, he suggested attending a service at Westminster Abbey. Instead of a traditional sermon, this was a “Song Service,” featuring an entire service filled with choral music.

While the Abbey’s renowned choir was away on tour, a visiting church choir filled the magnificent space with their beautiful voices. It was a shame photography wasn’t allowed inside during the service, but the memory of the music and the atmosphere is forever etched in my mind.

One particularly interesting moment came during the final prayer. We all joined in blessing the Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Prince William. It was a surreal experience to be part of such a historic tradition within the walls of London’s most famous church.